Associated Wholesale Grocers reported it broke several financial records in fiscal year 2017. ( File photo )

Associated Wholesale Grocers distributed $203.4 million in year-end patronage, with a total payout of $576.9 million in cooperative benefits following a year of consolidated net sales of $9.7 billion — all records — the cooperative announced at its annual shareholders meeting.

AWG’s cooperative sales rose 10.5% over fiscal year 2016, to $8.48 billion, according a news release about the March 28 meeting.

“AWG achieved these financial results primarily due to strong sales and widespread membership growth,” AWG President and CEO David Smith said in the release.

The cooperative began an initiative in 2016 to improve vendor-partner relationships resulting in lower costs of goods, along with aggregating $22 billion in buying power, according to the release.

AWG board chairman Barry Queen said “explosive” growth in the Chicagoland area was impressive, moving AWG from a “negligible market share to the wholesale leader to independent grocers” in a single year.

Queen also discussed competition in the physical and digital space.

“As a member-owned cooperative we band together to take these challenges head-on and we rely fully on AWG to provide us with what we need to remain successful and relevant,” he said in the release.